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Thursday, April 26, 2012

First day of College- What's in store for your homeschooled child

As my son prepares to enter college, I can't help but wonder what his experience will be like after homeschooling for so many years.  I am hoping this guest post from Jemima Lopez at Zen College Life will be helpful.

Research shows that not only do homeschooled children typically receive higher ACT test scores than their non-homeschooled peers— which incidentally makes them more desirable to college admission officers—but they also typically excel more than their peers once in college as well: homeschooled students earn more college credits at a faster rate, have higher G.P.A.s, and have an overall higher graduation and retention rate than those who graduated from a traditional high school, according to the Journal of College Admission. That said, succeeding academically should not be a concern. But adapting to the whole college atmosphere can be somewhat intimidating for some homeschooled children, especially those who have
never stepped foot on a college campus. No matter if your child chooses to attend a smaller private university or a public state school, below is a short outline of what's to be expected on your child's first day of school as well as some tips on how he or she can make the first couple of weeks seem less confusing.
Attend Orientation. Well before your child's first semester starts, he or she should be given the opportunity to attend "orientation."  At this time, your child's college-of-choice invites him or her to explore the campus, participate in activities, take college I.D. photos, register for classes, and spend the night in the dorm (if dorms are present) to get a feel for what his or her experience is going to be like for the next four years. If your child receives an invitation like this, allow him or her to attend. It might cost a fee, since food and room are typically included, but it's truly one of the easiest ways for your child to adapt to college life. 

Have a Mock Run Through. If your child's college-of-choice doesn’t host orientations or at the very least tours, then encourage your child to visit the campus anyway on his or her own and do a quick run through, especially after your child has enrolled in all of his or her courses. This way, your child can start the first day stress-free since he or she will know where he or she is going. If your child scheduled classes back-to-back, he or she will only have about 10 minutes to get to a class that could be on the other side of campus; so figuring out a route beforehand can save a lot of precious time. Printing out a campus map to use for the entire semester is always useful too. If your child still gets lost on the first day, let him or her know it's ok to ask other students for directions. They're more than gladly to help.

First Day Outline.  First days will vary per individual, but they usually are the same for freshmen.

Sizes of Classes: Since your child is a freshman, he or she will be required to take a bunch of core classes like English I, History I and Intro into Biology for example with other freshmen and possibly some sophomores. This means that everyone is new and is just going with the flow. These basic courses are typically hosted in auditoriums to accommodate the large new number of freshmen students. Once your child selects a concentration or progresses to his or her degree, the classes will start to get smaller and more intimate. 

First Day Work Load: On the first day, your child really doesn’t need anything more than a pencil/pen, notebook, and a folder to place his or her syllabi. Some professors will start lecturing the first day, but about 90% just take the first day to run through the syllabus and give students a taste of what the class will be like and what will be expected of them .This way, if your child wants to drop the class or switch professors, he or she still has ample time to do so. Usually your child won't need to drag heavy textbooks to any of his or her classes ever. Class time is used for lecturing, homework is used for reading. On that note, it's encouraged to hold out on buying textbooks until he or she has attended the first day of class since professors may slightly alter the required reading stated on the bookstore's website.  

Campus Life:  Lastly, school organizations and clubs, including "spirit," academic, recreational sports, frats, and other major-based groups will be spread across campus during the first few weeks in an attempt to lure in new members. Your child should take this time to see what interests them and check out a few meetings. The people your son and daughter meet in these organizations can help set you their careers and boost resumes as well as earn a group of lifetime friends. 

Jemima Lopez is a freelance blogger and writer who writes for Zen College Life, the directory of higher education, distance learning, and online degrees. She welcomes your comments at her email: lopezjemima562 @

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